Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Sun's Rainbow of Wavelengths

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The Sun's Rainbow of Wavelengths

Article excerpt

Telescopes help distant objects appear bigger, but this is only one of their advantages. Telescopes can also collect light in ranges that our eyes alone cannot see, providing scientists ways of observing a whole host of material and processes that would otherwise be inaccessible.

A new NASA movie of the Sun based on data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the wide range of wavelengths--invisible to the naked eye--that the telescope can view. SDO converts the wavelengths into an image humans can see, and the light is colorized into a rainbow of colors.

As the colors sweep around the Sun in the movie, viewers should note how different the same area of the Sun appears. This happens because each wavelength of light represents solar material at specific temperatures. Different wavelengths convey information about different components of the Sun's surface and atmosphere, so scientists use them to paint a full picture of our constantly changing and varying star. …

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